In many professions there are now organisations and associations that cater for the needs of the professional members. Examples in sport include the ‘League Managers Association’, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA), and the English Cricket Coaches Association (ECB-CA), amongst others. These associations provide specific support and services to their members who are active members of the profession. So, has the time come for an association for applied sport and performance psychologists?
There are a number of associations, societies, and organisations across the world that are composed of psychologists. There are national organisations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the British Psychological Society (BPS), and Australian Psychological Society (APS). Each of these organisations has a specific focus for psychology, and in all cases Divisions that focus on sport psychology. However, the main focuses of such associations and societies is regulation, qualification, and quality assurance. As a result, it could be questioned whether the needs of the individual applied practitioners are really met. Indeed each of these organisations is also composed of a significant number of academic psychologists, who in turn have a specific view and often a slightly different set of needs. Often the applied focus is lost.
There are also organisations that cross national boundaries such as Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and the European Sport Psychology Organisation (FEPSAC). Each of these organisations has specific strengths, but do they meet the needs of individual applied practitioners in specific countries? An interesting example here is that of occupational psychology in the UK. The BPS has a Division of Occupational Psychology but this was deemed not to meet the needs of the applied practitioners working in Industry. As a result the ‘association of Business Psychologists (ABP)’ was formed as a way of providing this applied focus. The ABP aims:
‘To be the leading professional body representing business psychology by actively championing the benefits of the use of psychology in the workplace & by bringing together a community of practitioners & academics’.
Substitute ’sport and performance’ for ‘business’ and I think you have the start of something new and of value for applied sport psychologists:
‘To be the leading professional body representing sport and performance psychology by actively championing the benefits of the use of psychology in sport & by bringing together a community of practitioners & academics’.
The logical next step for any organisation for applied sport psychologists would be to explore what members of such an association would? Is it CPD opportunities, networking options, legal advice, mentoring support, communities of practice, sharing of knowledge? In essence, what do applied sport psychologists want that will help them to be better as practitioners? I have been a member of multiple other organisations for years, but I don’t remember ever being asked those questions.
Maybe the discipline has evolved sufficiently offer the last 25 years to now recognise that the world of the independent full-time applied consultant does exist, and needs its own voice and support that is very similar, but also distinct from that which has historically been the case. This in turn may necessitate the setting up of a new Association ran by applied sport psychologists for applied sport psychologists.